South Africa’s go-to flu fighters fill most fridges in the cold winter months, however, ginger and garlic need very warm and humid weather conditions to grow and thrive. This pair is mostly found in different pocket areas in the country like Durban, Hazy View in Mpumalanga, and Louis Trichardt in Limpopo.
Host Dawn Noemdoe recently hosted a Gather To Grow session in the Twitter Spaces on garlic and ginger farming in South Africa. The panel explored different topics, ranging from dos and don’ts to the local and export markets.
Hydroponic ginger producer in Louis Trichardt Ika Cronje explained that ginger thrives in warm weather but it is important to have a lot of water to help regulate the heat.
“Ginger prefers hot and humid climates and you need a lot of water to grow ginger because when temperatures rise above 28 degrees, you need to cool it down with overhead irrigation so that the sun doesn’t burn the leaves,” she said.
Her father, Braam Cronje, added that during Covid-19 these two commodities were really popular and most consumers rushed to buy them. Now the prices go for R60 to R70 a kilogram.
How the local market looks
“The market goes up and down at the moment, garlic and ginger are imported from China every year and we have competition from China, especially in this market,” he said.
Andrew Mokanya from Genova Farms SA in Magaliesburg, Gauteng farms garlic, cabbage, spinach, and tomato.
He said garlic and ginger were thriving in South Africa until the local market was flooded with imported ginger and garlic and the prices plummeted.
“There was a slight spike during Covid times when there were not enough inputs or flow of goods from outside. Garlic was also affected, creating a spike in the price, to the point where farmers almost sold their seed because prices were good.
“Post Covid we have reached a normalisation in terms of pricing. The garlic market is currently fetching R60-70 a kilo maybe based on the type of cultivar. I do the Egyptian pink and that is the going price at the moment,” he said.
Difference between local and imported garlic
Mokanya added that garlic imported from an aesthetic point of view is pretty and big. Consumers will always use imported garlic when buying at a shop because it is big, bright, and looks clean.
“If the packaging is not destroyed, you will be able to see it on the label because imports must be clearly labeled. It is very big, clean, and is usually washed with acid. The local one is rough and doesn’t grow that big, small to medium size cloves and is more pungent from the imported,” he added.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.